The conservative case for trams.

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bluetram.jpgIn October Matt Lewis reviewed "Moving Minds; Conservatives and Public Transportation", a book co-authored by Weyrich and Lind, two very senior American conservatives, one of whom cut his political teeth on a public transport campaign.

Typically, as the review says, the case for better public transport is made by us tofu-eating "liberals", not hawks and military strategists. 

But they note that transport in America has been anything but a free market. Socialised freeways (note to Democrats and American Greens: this phrase may come in handy) have competed with overtaxed mass transit schemes.

Furthermore, the blue case for trams goes,* this car-based economy has spawned burbs, a lifestyle which weakens communities, and made us (like them) dependent on foreign oil. Rail, tram and subway lines, conversely, provide certainty to businesses to grow near stops, something a new bus route can't do.

Just because they're probably wrong on so many other things doesn't make these arguments any less persuasive, even though the review doesn't even mention climate change or other traditional environmental issues. There's a film interview with Lind here which does, though. His view, expressed in it, is that even mentioning those issues presses conservatives' "campaign against" button. The graph of public support shown in the film is also particularly striking.

I'm with Kenny Macaskill. A well-implemented tram network "will be the basis upon which Edinburgh can grow and flourish. It is after all the physical arteries that are the lifeblood of the community. Better therefore to take our time to get it right than progress at pace and repent at leisure. Moreover in transport like most other things in life you get what you pay for. Do it on the cheap and you'll get the quality it merits."

Nationalists, Greens, Lib Dems, Labour folk, conservatives, everyone gets it. Well, apart from those whose party in local government have undermined the work they're supposed to be delivering. Callum: get on board.

* yes, I know Americans have gotten their red and blue mixed up, but there's no need to get dragged down by them.


The thing I am still puzzling over is how the trams will be better for everyone. Last I checked the bus companies hadnt said that they were going to reduce their services - which pretty much go the same routes.

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